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The Cooler - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

WILLIAM H Macy is consistently one of those actors who either makes a movie, or steals every scene he is in.

We think the guy should command more lead performances, having turned up trumps in the likes of Seabiscuit, Fargo, Welcome to Collinwood and Magnolia. Heck, he even made Jurassic Park III entertaining.

Now, however, he headlines in a smart little flick which is earning rave reviews in America.

The film is The Cooler and, having sparked a bidding frenzy at the Sundance Film Festival, it has now set the tongues of US critics wagging in its favour - not least because of the performance of Macy.

The actor plays Bernie Lootz, a man with chronic bad luck that quickly spreads to those around him.

His ability to give bad luck to others lands him a job at a casino, where he spoils the winning streaks of gamblers.

But when he meets and falls in love with a waitress, Natalie (Maria Bello), his luck turns good and all hell breaks loose.

The film co-stars Alec Baldwin and Estella Warren and is directed by Wayne Kramer.

According to website, Movies.com, the film's distributor, Lions Gate, paid $1.5 million to turn The Cooler into the first pickup of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, prompting media interest to go through the roof.

But while a second screening failed to generate as much interest as at first hoped for, the main talking point, prior to the US release, was the fact that the 52-year-old Macy gets repeatedly naked.

Macy and Bello are both said to be excellent, but there is a great deal of buzz, also, surrounding Baldwin, who, pending a successful release, could be the most likely to secure an Oscar nomination.


US reaction

Critics in America were largely raving about this smart little movie, with Macy and Baldwin, in particular, being singled out for praise...

Leading the way is Rolling Stone, which wrote that 'from James Whitaker's seductive camerawork to Mark Isham's lush score, The Cooler places all the smart bets and hits the jackpot'.

While the Los Angeles Times noted that, 'in a notably confident feature debut, Kramer demonstrates a surefire skill in eliciting genuine emotional impact amid make-believe'.

The New York Times noted that 'this picture is rescued from cliche by the quality of the acting, and Mr. Kramer wisely gives the actors room to work'.

And the New York Post stated that it is 'the best thing Baldwin has done in years, and a triumph of low-budget storytelling by a director to watch'.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that 'it's got the kick, style and flavor of a straight-up story, before movies were watered down with the opinions of marketers, lawyers and committee heads'.

While LA Weekly found that 'the romance that ensues between Macy and Bello (both of whom are terrific) is exactly the kind of mature, sexy adult relationship that people complain doesn't exist in movies anymore'.

Continuing the accolades was E! Online, which wrote that 'Baldwin's bad-dude turn is devilishly good, and Macy gives a great sad-sack performance'.

And Film Threat noted that it 'does wonderful things with an unlikely, maybe even slightly fantastic love story between two star-crossed lovers'.

Reelviews, meanwhile, felt that 'Kramer has fashioned an impressive cinematic calling card'.

And concluding this overview, is Film Journal International, which opined that, 'in the end, The Cooler succeeds not because of its script (clever enough) or its direction (surprisingly skillful), but because of its cast'.

The film is released in the UK on June 18.

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